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Cassie Granger

Operation Metal Jacket

Operation Metal Jacket


SFMC Force Recon Headquarters

Camp Pendleton, California, Earth


Granger’s stylus tapped a rhythm in the air, then shifted to flip smoothly between her fingers, one to the other, as her hand hovered over the slate in her lap. It was an old habit from Academy days that helped her think. And when the chair rocked to the same rhythm, it was even better. Too bad this one didn’t. Barracks at Pendleton had basic furniture, but it was better than most and nothing to complain about. Besides, she could be out on the backass end of nowhere, hunting targets, dodging rattlers, and preparing for quals* that would be up in the next few months.


Cass had been designing and reworking schematics for a project ever since their last trip to earth, and now it was crunch time. Morrison was secure on base, AAR* had been filed, requisitions had been approved, SOCOM* had given her the go-ahead, and equipment was on the move. Now all she needed was….


“Busy?” Cass looked up to Moa’s lean bulk that completely filled the doorway. She often wondered how a man his size could be so swift, agile, and so downright sneaky. He held one of the best recon records in the Corps; Cass figured it must have something to do with genetics. And there he stood, forearm leaning against the doorframe as he flashed that little boy lost look, obviously bored.


Her grin was automatic.


“Come on in. Have a seat.” The stylus stilled enough to point to an easy chair and the refrigeration unit behind her. “Grab a cold one. What’s on your mind, Gunny?”


He shrugged, grabbing a long-neck. “Not much. Trying to figure out what I do from here.”


“Go home, visit the fam, check out the available females maybe?” She said, still paging through the slate, shifting this here and that there.


“Nah,” he replied, testing the brew before dropping easily into the chair. “Last time I went home, my mother paraded an endless line of clueless ‘availables’ in front of me, waiting for me to choose,” he sighed. “I’m thinking more along the lines of doing something to remind my body that there’s life beyond artificial gravity, ship’s mess, and recycled air. Like a...” he took a long, suggestive look in the direction of her slate, “wilderness trek, maybe. Any idea where I might go?”


The stylus stopped. Cass lowered the slate to meet his gaze. “You particular about which wilderness, Gunny? Mind the cold?” She knew he didn't.


He gave a snort, then pointed the neck of the bottle at the slate. “Is it dangerous enough?”


“Could be.”


Pushing back into the armchair, he sipped a while, pretending to consider. “What’d you have in mind, Cap?”


Cass uncrossed her legs and tapped the slate to bring the team lounge wall-mounted display to life. It displayed the schematics for what looked like a SOG* base. Coordinates for its location ran across the bottom of the screen.


“Yep, that’s cold,” he said, reaching into the R-unit for another Schöfferhofer. “What’s the deal?”


“Personal protection high-level security for a blue* HVT* and replacement for personal property destroyed during rescue. Design is pretty much set; construction to begin asap. Interested?”


“Absolutely,” he replied, dangling the bottle by the neck. “Do I know the HVT?”




“Will I?”




“Fair enough.” He grinned as he made a two-pointer into the recycler with the empty bottle.


“Know anyone else who might be interested?”


The Maori warrior thought a moment, then jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "Got a whole team of Retreads* driving me insane about getting some action. Unless something happens soon they’ll be dead, because if they don’t kill each other, I'll kill 'em."


"So... they're not going home either?"


“Something about,” he air-quoted, “people not understanding ‘em when they don't want to talk shop."


"And it has nothing _at_all_ to do with Deep Six," she said skeptically. Deep Six was the team’s favorite onshore dive, buried in the back streets of San Diego.


"Been there; done that, Cap. Bars and babes don't fill the void, specially for Tanya. Some jerks just don't know when to quit. One almost bought it last night."


“A'ight," she sighed. "Bring ‘em in."


Ten minutes later, Tanya, Gonzales, Daniels, Souter, O’Neill, and Moa had settled in. Cass hitched a hip on the table next to the monitor, reviewed what she had already told Moa and began filling in the blanks.


“So we’re talking SOG Base OPS, Captain?” said Moa, pointing a finger at various areas. “Main building, outbuildings, rustic exterior, high-tech interior. That about it?”


“Specs will be to SOG Tier One* standards, Gunny. The basic design of the main house is not modifiable except for hidden defenses and security. The main house is replacement for destroyed personal property during a mission, as per Starfleet regs. The original structure was occupied by several generations. It has to be as authentic as possible with basic defenses concealed. Beyond basic security is the job of the outbuildings. And when it’s finished,” she tapped the membrane, “it’ll look like this.”


“Ordinary cabin in the woods.”




“Projected timeline?”






“Exterior is local wood for all structures. Lumber for the main house will be local cut, mostly taken from the wood lot on the property and quickfire dried. It’ll have to be hand-hewn for authenticity and aged so it looks like it’s been there a long time. Tech is SOCOM issue.”


“And our mission in this?”


“Two teams on overwatch, the rest assisting in tech setup or whatever the construction engineer wants you to do, standard rotations.”


Moa nodded, then surveyed the group for questions. There weren't any. Yeah, they were that eager to get outta Pendleton.


“Then Operation Metal Jacket is a go. We will be On Mission at 0500. Before that you are free to decline, beyond that you’re committed. Gear up heavy battle rattle. Expect hostiles, including large, hungry wildlife. Be ready for freeze and sneeze; weather’s fickle in the Canadian Rockies this time of year.”


*quals: re-certification of skills

*AAR: After Action Report

*SOCOM: Special Operations Command

*SOG: pronounced "sog" as in "soggy" - a Special Operations Group

*blue: friendly

*HVT: High Value Target

*Retread: slang for Recon (Reconnaissance)

*Tier One: highest

Edited by Cassie Granger

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